Football: McCoist on a mission to make Muscovites retreat

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The Independent Online
ALLY McCOIST, the prolific Rangers striker, will chase another goals record when the Glaswegians meet CSKA Moscow in the European Cup in Germany tonight.

The Scotland striker, back after missing the 2-2 draw with Marseille two weeks ago with a calf injury, needs one goal to become Rangers' top scorer in European club competitions.

'I would love to claim the record this week,' said McCoist as Rangers prepared for the semi- final series group A match at Bochum, where CSKA are 'at home' because of Russia's severe winter.

'CSKA proved in earlier rounds that they can score goals, but they lose a few as well. I don't want to tempt fate but it's good to know they are conceding goals.' McCoist, with 32 for Rangers this season and the Premier Division's all-time top scorer with 199, took his European tally to 12 against Leeds in the second round. He captains the side in the absence of the injured defender, Richard Gough.

But after fielding a weakened side at home to Marseille and fighting back from two goals down, Rangers are otherwise back to full strength, despite a slight doubt over Gary Stevens. Stuart McCall and Dave McPherson are available again after injury, while Ian Ferguson is back after suspension.

Stevens offered Scotland's international side as the role model for Rangers to copy tonight. Stevens, who watched the European Championship on television because of the injury which kept him out until last month, was deeply impressed with Scotland's 3-0 defeat of the CIS in Sweden. And the 29-year- old England full-back wants a repeat of the Scots' fearless style when Rangers tackle the young, improving Russians.

Stevens, whose participation is in a slight doubt because of a knee injury, said: 'We need total belief in ourselves against CSKA - a quality which was missing against Marseille last month.

'I just look back to the way Scotland played in the summer. They were so positive, so uninhibited and committed to the cause. That is how we must be.

'I think there was a bit of an inferiority complex about our performance against Marseille. It wasn't until late in the game that we believed in ourselves and earned a 2-2 draw. I only wish that belief had come earlier.'

Stevens suffered a kick on the side of his knee against Airdrieonians a week ago and a late fitness test will decide whether he makes his first contribution to this European campaign.

Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, admitted that Stevens is his only injury doubt. However the loss of one 'foreigner' would force a reshuffle in his team selection. If Stevens plays, his fellow Englishmen, Mark Hateley and Trevor Steven, would almost certainly be the other non-nationals in the side.

A team without Stevens would let in Alexei Mikhailichenko in midfield, probably forcing Stuart McCall to deputise at right-back as he has done on several occasions this season.

Stevens said: 'We must capitalise on our fightback against Marseille. I think three points from two games would be acceptable at this stage.

'CSKA will be tough but I feel we are better prepared defensively this time, even without Richard Gough. If we're lucky, they will be a bit rusty since their season closed down some weeks ago.'

CSKA, who eliminated Barcelona, go into the tie in a state of some depression after their international keeper, Dimitri Kharin, left earlier in the week to join Chelsea, who are still seeking a work permit for him.

Alexander Guteyev will deputise in a side which includes several players under 24. Half a dozen players have moved to the West while two more, the forward Ilshat Fayzullin and Alexander Grishin, a midfielder, are now Barcelona targets.

(Photograph omitted)